Queen Elizabeth Park is a beautiful area in Vancouver with multiple attractions for visitors. One of these is the lovely gardens created on the site of a former quarry. The gardens are attractive all year but are especially so when flowers bloom. They are wonderful places to take photographs or to explore. I always find something new to see or photograph when I go the gardens and the park.
Little Mountain and Queen Elizabeth Park
The park is located on a hill known as Little Mountain. The top of the mountain is the highest point in the city of Vancouver at 152 metres (500 feet). The hill is such a dominant feature in the area that the neighbourhood at its base is also known as Little Mountain. The summit of the hill provides an interesting view of the city and the Coast Mountains to the north of Burrard Inlet.
Queen Elizabeth Park has an area of 52 hectares (130 acres) and is spread over the mountain. The Quarry Gardens and the Bloedel Floral Conservatory are probably the main attractions for visitors. They’re accessed or located at the top of the hill. A road travels up Little Mountain and a parking lot is present at the top.
The Quarry Gardens
The quarry gardens can be visited without cost. There are two of them: the larger Quarry Garden and the smaller North Quarry Garden, which is overlooked by the Seasons in the Park Restaurant. The Quarry Garden has a lovely collection of flowers, shrubs, and trees and contains a stream and a waterfall. The North Quarry Garden has no water but has some interesting oriental features.
A visit to the gardens requires a short descent by paths and steps from the top of the mountain and then a climb on the reverse journey. The gardens can be admired by looking over a low wall if someone can’t or doesn’t want to make the descent. If you look carefully, you may be able to see a man and a woman looking over the wall in my first photograph.
“Photo Session” is a sculpture by J. Seward Johnson, Junior. It’s located in front of a viewpoint in the park. It shows a man photographing three friends and encouraging them to pose as he wishes. The sculpture itself is very frequently photographed. Many people like to stand beside the three posing characters in order for someone to take their photo. The sculptor gave his creation to the park in 1984.
A Henry Moore sculpture entitled “Knife Edge Two Piece 1962-1965” is located on the plaza near the conservatory. It was donated by Prentice Bloedel of the MacMillan Bloedel forestry company. He also made a donation that played a major role in enabling the Bloedel Floral Conservatory to be created.
The “Love in the Rain” sculpture shows wire mesh people under umbrellas. The public is encouraged to add a padlock to the sculpture to “lock in their love.” Other sculptures are sometimes on temporary display at the park.
The Bloedel Conservatory
The Bloedel Conservatory contains so many attractions that it deserves a post of its own, which I’ll create in the near future. A post about the park really needs to mention the conservatory, however, even briefly. Unlike the gardens, the conservatory charges an admission fee. The tickets aren’t very expensive, though.
The interior of the dome is a fascinating place for a nature lover to visit. More than 500 types of exotic plants and over 120 birds—many of them free-flying—can be found under the dome. The conservatory has a temperature-controlled environment and a variety of mini-habitats.
It’s sometimes necessary to walk carefully as colourful birds land on a path in the conservatory. The birds are fed at feeding stations visible to the public. These stations provide great photo opportunities. Larger birds that needed a new home also live under the dome. These include parrots and cockatoos.
Other Attractions in the Park
The flat and spacious area next to the conservatory is officially known as Queen Elizabeth Plaza. It sits on top of a reservoir that provides much of Vancouver’s drinking water. The reservoir consists of two earthquake-proof cells and holds 45 million gallons of water.
A popular attraction on the plaza is the “Dancing Waters” fountain. The fountain has seventy jets that release recirculating water. The height and timing of the water released from the jets is controlled by a computer program and varies, creating the dancing effect. The Celebration Pavilion is located near the conservatory and is a popular site for weddings.
An arboretum is located on the slopes of the park. It contains around 1,500 trees from across Canada and other parts of the world. The park also contains a rose garden. In the spring and summer, artists work in the park and sell their creations.
The park has lawn bowling, pitch and putt, and disc golf areas as well as tennis courts, a basketball court, and arbours for tai chi. It also has an off-leash site for dogs. These facilities make the park popular for people living near by as well as tourists and plant-lovers.
Getting to Queen Elizabeth Park
The park is located in the centre of Vancouver. It has several entrances. It’s officially said to be located at the junction of Cambie Street and West 33rd Avenue but has other roads on its perimeter.
Pay parking is available in the park for people with vehicles. A SkyTrain line stops at the Oakridge-41st Avenue Station. (SkyTrain is Greater Vancouver’s rapid transit system.) People can walk to Queen Elizabeth Park from the station. Buses travel along the roads that border the park. Tour buses also go to the park.
TransLink is the organization that runs the public transit system in the Greater Vancouver area. Their website has a trip planner. If a person enters their starting and ending locations, the trip planner will tell them how to reach their destination by public transit.
A bike route travels beside Little Mountain. Bike routes or bikeways are located on quieter and lower-traffic roads compared to the situation on main roads. However the park is reached, I think the journey is very worthwhile. I always enjoy my visits to the park.